Created on the lines of the Amish Friendship Starter, this chain involves receiving a “surprise” ingredient by post from another blogger. One cooks something with this ingredient, posts about it, and then sends another “surprise” packet to another blogger, who also does the same thing and the friendship chain continues. The chain was started off by Latha at the Yum Blog. Arusuvai was restricted to bloggers in India but has also been started off for bloggers in the United States recently.
My surprise ingredient, sent to me by Shella of Kitchen Art, is below.
All of you who have been following my posts would know that I am a die-hard chocoholic. Just can’t resist the stuff. If I didn’t have blood flowing through me arteries and veins, it would be chocolate! So the packet of cocoa powder put a smile on my face.
The first ideas that ran through my mind were the usual – cupcakes, cakes, brownies, etc.
Then I remembered seeing a recipe that looked good but had never got around to. It also seemed a nice idea to make something I never had before for the Arusuvai post.
So I made Nanaimo Bars.
These are no-bake chocolate bars with three layers – a bottom crumb based layer, a middle custard layer and covered with a chocolate layer.
These were apparently first made by a lady from Nanaimo in British Columbia, Canada and entered for a contest in a magazine. They won the prize and became famous, as did the city of Nanaimo which lists a recipe on its webpage.
Some New Yorkers claim that these originated there and are popular here as New York Slices.
Some more recipes for Nanaimo Bars can be seen here.
There are many variations of this bar depending on the crumbs, flavours of custard and types of chocolate used. I used the recipe at Joy Of Baking for reference, made a few changes and have now added my variation to the Nanaimo Bar.
½ cup unsalted butter (50gm), at room temperature
¼ cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (surprise ingredient)
1 large egg, beaten
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups digestive biscuit crumbs (I used Brittania)
1 cup grated coconut
¼ cup chopped walnuts
¼ cup chopped cashewnuts
¼ cup butter (50gm)
2-3 tbsp milk/ cream
½ tsp vanilla
½ tsp cinnamon powder
2 cups powdered sugar
150gm chocolate, broken into pieces
1 tbsp butter
Lightly grease a 8 by 8 inch tin. I had a rectangular “burfi” tin which I used. (A "burfi" is a general name for a variety of Indian square or diamond shaped confections which are sugar based, cooked in ghee till thick, pressed into a plate/ tin andallowed to set till dry.)
The bottom layer:
In a tsp of butter, lightly brown the cashews and then the walnuts and keep aside. In the same pan, toast the coconut till golden and keep aside. This is not usually done for these bars, but I like the taste of toasted nuts and coconut.
Melt the butter and mix in the sugar and cocoa powder in a bowl over hot water. Mix. Whisk in the beaten egg till well mixed and cook for about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, mix well and press into the pan. Refrigerate till this sets ( about an hour).
The middle layer:
Cream the butter using an electric beater. Beat in the remaining ingredients, adding a little milk if it is too thick. The dough/ batter will resemble a thick cookie dough or ice-cream. Spread this over the first layer and refrigerate till set (about half an hour).
Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl, over hot water, mixing well and pour over the middle layer. Refrigerate till set.
When ready cut into squares. To cut, use a sharp knife dipped in hot water. This is important if you want neat squares. You can see some of my bars look less than perfect! Keep the Nanaimo bars refrigerated.
These bars have crumby base, a sweet icing type of custardy middle and a lovely chocolatey top layer. Each layer on its own is nothing noteworthy (except the chocolate on top!) but all three layers together in a bite is quite something. The family voted “yes” for this and I will definitely be making this again, with a little less sweeter middle layer (perhaps reducing the sugar by quarter a cup).
This recipe gave me 30 bars.
I shall be sending out a “surprise” ingredient in the coming week to Bindiya of In Love With Food.